Here's how to turn off the Precise Location function on an iPhone to keep your whereabouts private.

iPhone’s Precise Location Feature Isn’t New, But There Is A Way To Turn It Off

Here’s the deal.

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iPhone users, you might want to check your Settings, because there’s a location feature you may not have noticed. During the week of Aug. 22, people on Twitter began to share screenshots what was being referred to as a new option called “Precise Location.” According Apple, the company has used precise location in its Location Services for several years. In fact, the tech giant only introduced the ability to choose an approximate location when it released the iOS 14 update in 2020 — and that’s when the “Precise Location” toggle became available in your iPhone’s Settings. Which apps need your precise location is up to you, and here’s what you need to know about how to turn off precise location on an iPhone to customize your Location Services.

Despite what the internet says, the Precise Location toggle has been in your Settings for about 2 years. The purpose of the feature, as it’s explained in the iPhone’s Settings, is to allow apps with Location Services to “use your specific location.” The description adds, “With this setting off, apps can only determine your approximate location.”

To understand what this means, let’s take it back to iOS 14. While you were hype about making aesthetic AF Home Screens, you may have missed the part of the update that allowed for apps to use your approximate location. According to Apple, before iOS 14, all app Location Services utilized precise location, and it was only in September 2020 that approximate location became available — which gave us the advent of the Precise Location toggle.


The introduction of approximate location with iOS 14 meant that you could choose to only share an area of around 10 square miles, as opposed to your actual location, aka your precise location. Apple’s privacy webpage explains this is meant to give you more control of your data. When using approximate location, “you can use apps to find nearby restaurants or check the local weather without providing more information than you need to,” the company explains on the website.

Precise location will provide apps with a much more accurate look at your location, with a smaller radius, which might make sense for apps like Find My or Uber. But when it comes to apps like Weather, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you might not need to be so... precise.

In Apple’s Location Services legal disclaimer, the company explains that your data is collected and used for purposes like improving “location-based and road traffic-based products and services.”

This encrypted information isn’t made public to individuals who, say, see your tagged location on Instagram — but still, your data is your data, and you might not want IG to have a precise location for every spot you tag on vacation. To curate which apps need to know exactly where you are, here’s how to turn off precise location.

How To Turn Off Precise Location In Settings

First, if you don’t have your Location Services turned on, then you won’t have precise location activated. But if any of your app’s Location Services are set to “Ask Next Time Or When I Share,” “While Using The App,” or “Always,” then your Precise Location toggle is likely turned on.

There are a few different ways you can turn off the precise location function to prevent sharing your exact location with apps any longer. The quickest way is to go to Settings > Privacy> Location Services. And then toggle Location Services off. But if you do that, you might miss out on some functionality in apps like Uber or Find My.

There is a more time-consuming way to toggle off Precise Location in Settings on the apps you’d prefer not have it. The first way to switch off Precise Location requires you to:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Navigate to the Privacy tab.
  • Tap the “Location Services” option in the Privacy tab.
  • Tap the name of an app, like Instagram.

After you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to a page that lists your Location Services preferences for that app. With every app, you’ll see a section titled “Allow Location Access,” and underneath that you’ll see three options: Never, Ask Next Time Or When I Share, and While Using The App. Your current preference will be indicated with a blue checkmark, but you can always change it by tapping a new option.

If the app also has a Precise Location toggle, it will appear underneath this section with an on-off button next to it. The toggle will likely be switched on already — to turn it off, just tap the toggle until it changes from green to grey.

Another way to turn off the feature is to:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Scroll to the end of the page where your apps are listed.
  • Tap into an app.
  • Select “Location”.
  • Find the Precise Location section, then switch the toggle off.

Either way you choose to do it, you’ll need to tap into each app, navigate to the Location page, and switch off the toggle manually until you’ve gone through all your apps. It might take some time, but once you’re done, you’ll have curated your Locations Services preferences to what suits your needs.

How To Turn Off Precise Location On New Apps

When you download an app that requires Location Services, you’ll be asked to select your Location Preferences via a pop-up in the app. The pop-up will include a map with your current location, and in the top left-hand corner of the map, there should be a button that says “Precise: On” in blue. To turn it off, all you have to do is tap the button, and your map will zoom out to indicate your location is no longer precise. If you choose “Don’t Allow,” then Precise Location will also be off.

Chick fil A app

Though you might want to turn off some Precise Location toggles, you may want to consider leaving it on for a select few apps. According to a Location pop-up in the Uber app, ride share apps rely on Precise Location for “improved safety and a faster, more reliable pickup,” and your information will only be shared with the app “from the time you request a ride until that ride ends or whenever you have the app open on your screen.”

Of course, sharing your location (approximate or precise) comes in handy when you need recommendations in an area or want to know what the weather is like. According to Apple, Location Services let third-party apps, like your go-to coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin’, use information based on your location for purposes like setting a time zone or finding restaurant locations. And when you have Location Services turned on, your phone may send geo-tagged encrypted data for purposes of crowd-sourcing road traffic, for example.

And how does Apple find your location? According the Location Services Privacy Overview from November 2019, “Apple devices leverage Global Positioning System (GPS) and Bluetooth beacons (where available) as well as crowdsourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations.” In addition to giving you the ability to share or not share your location when you want to, Apple implements practices to protect data, like end-to-end encryption.

That’s a lot of information to take in, but as long as you know where you can go to control your Location Services, you can adjust your preferences at any time.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated on Aug. 25 with new information from Apple regarding the September 2020 launch date of the Precise Location toggle in the iPhone Settings as well as the functionality of the precise location feature.

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